This is it.
This is why we don't start working out. Either we don't know what to do, so we don't begin. Or, we don't know what to do but we try something anyway and get injured or don't get good results or don't know how to track results or never get over the feeling that we're an impostor so we quit.
This is a new series about how someone new to exercise, new to gyms, or new to fitness should think about how to design their workout.
Part 2: Talk To Somebody
The last time a warning light came on in my car, I popped open the hood and started bashing shit with a hammer. Only for about 20 seconds or so. I figure that saved me at least $50, right? Screw those mechanics. Those dudes who "think they know how cars work" are just leaches. Just like doctors and lawyers and judges and shit. Just because I have zero background in this shit doesn't mean I can't figure it out.
My first piece of advice for a newbie going to a gym is to figure out what you're doing before you go. That might be Googling some shit or it might be scheduling some time with a trainer. Don't pretend that you know what you're doing when you don't. Don't represent yourself in court. Don't rewire your garage in the dark. Don't go to the gym without knowing what you're doing and expect to get results.
The first session I have with new clients is what I call an assessment. I put the client through a series of movements (body-weight squats, push-ups/planks, etc) and watch how their body functions. Then I talk with the client, learn about health history, preexisting conditions, discover goals, and find out who they are. Based on that, I put together a plan specifically for them.
You should probably try to do something like that. Talk to somebody.
But you shouldn't talk to your dumbass friend.
You probably know somebody who jogs, right? You also probably know somebody who lifts weights, right? Good for them. Fuck them. There is a 92% chance that they are idiots. Or, to be more charitable, what they are doing might work for them and their goals, but it likely will not work for you. Maybe you will eventually become a jogger or a lifter, but if you are just getting started, that's not where you are now. Tagging along on a casual run through your neighborhood might fuck up your feet or knees. Don't do that.
You should find a professional to check out your alignment and tune up your engine. If you start at zero and then start going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, you need to do a specific introductory style of workouts to "prime the pistons." (That's a basketball reference because of the basketball Pistons.)
This makes sense, right? Walk before you run. Practice lifting a relatively light barbell correctly so you don't hurt yourself when you add more weight. Learn knee push-ups with perfect form before you move up to your toes. Right? You build this foundation before trying to keep up with your friend who does half marathons every other week or your other friend who does split jerks for funsies.
You learn this foundation by talking to somebody. Maybe that somebody is the author of a book that you refer to as you slowly work through movements. Maybe that somebody doesn't talk like a meathead in their youtube videos. Maybe that somebody is a personal trainer at the gym. Maybe you talk to me. Whatever. Talk to somebody.